Column: New conference, same results
When the final horn sounded at the end of the final Big East tournament in Hartford last spring, one era in UConn women's basketball ended and another began. At that time it was clear that some teams like Louisville and Rutgers would eventually leave the AAC after the 2013-2014 season, leaving UConn with little competition in conference play.
Here we are one year later and the Huskies have pulled off another perfect season despite having to play the Cardinals twice during the regular season. One of my professors joked yesterday, is there anybody that can beat this team?
At this point, you can make the argument that the only team that can beat the Huskies are themselves. Once again UConn has produced staggering statistics, including 10 wins over ranked opponents.
For the Huskies, this is their 7th undefeated regular season, winning the national title five times out of their previous six. If you talk to head coach Geno Auriemma, he will almost certainly tell you that stats and history don't amount to anything. To a degree, he's right. What the Huskies did this season will mean nothing once the AAC tournament gets underway this weekend at Mohegan Sun Arena.
However, UConn can take many lessons away from this season and into the postseason this March. More than likely, the Huskies will once again run into Louisville in the AAC tournament. After playing them twice this season, UConn has the upper hand after seeing just about everything the Cardinals could throw at them. While all is good in the UConn camp, there is one thing that concerns me.
What happens to the Huskies when they face an opponent in the NCAA tournament that they haven't faced this year?
The first team that comes to mind is our old friend, Muffet McGraw and the Fighting Irish. No. 2 Notre Dame heads into their first ACC tournament, also with an undefeated regular season record. The Irish are the favorites to win the ACC tournament and will more than likely be one of the top four seeds in the NCAA tournament.
Last season, Notre Dame had UConn's number all last season, but the Huskies were able to capitalize when it mattered most during the Final Four in New Orleans. What concerns me most about this Irish team is the fact that UConn has yet to play Notre Dame this year.
Last season, the Huskies had three solid looks at the Irish before the big dance. This is not the same Irish team that gave UConn fits during the regular season and Big East tournament. However, UConn will need to contend with Natalie Achonwa and Kayla McBride, two key players who led the Irish to the Final Four last year.
All season long, UConn fans have been waiting for March. Well, it's here. If you haven't been paying attention, here's your chance. The UConn women have their eyes set on their 9th national title. As long as they don't beat themselves, the Huskies will avoid the ides of March and can expect another victory celebration in Storrs.
Follow Tyler on Twitter @TylerRMorrissey
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